From top to bottom, it was a close race.
And it went to the second-last day of the 2013-2014 regular season to decide the fourth-and-final playoff spot in the North Division of the North American Hockey League.
At the end of the day, it was the Johnstown Tomahawks getting the last playoff spot, one point ahead of fifth-place Springfield Jr. Blues and three points more than sixth-place Soo Eagles.
That’s how close it was in the six-team North Division.
In fact, five of the six teams in the NAHL North ended the regular season with a record of at least .500.
Only the Soo finished below the watershed mark and — with a record of 25-27-8 — just two games below at that.
Final regular-season point totals in the NAHL North show the Port Huron Fighting Falcons with 80, Michigan Warriors with 70, Janesville Jets with 68, Johnstown with 61, Springfield with 60 and the Soo with 58.
Thus, it will be Port Huron v. Johnstown and Michigan v. Janesville in the two best-of-five, opening-round series.
While equality is very evident in the NAHL North, one team to watch for in the playoffs might be Janesville.
It was late February and with 12 games to go in the regular season, Janesville was in last place in the North.
Undaunted, the Jets went 10-1-1 over their final 12 games in picking up 21 of a possible 24 points to move from sixth place to third and a playoff spot.
Included in that 10-1-1 Janesville record were four straight wins over Johnstown, three in a row over Springfield and a 3-1-1 mark against a Michigan team that the Jets will play in the first round of the playoffs.
Which, to be sure, is very impressive.
As Janesville ended the regular season on a torrid pace, the opposite was true in Johnstown as the Tomahawks toppled from second to fourth and barely made the playoffs.
Over its final 12 games, Johnstown had a record of only 2-8-2. However, it should be noted that over that 12-game span, the Tomahawks won when they had to by defeating the Soo in two out of three matches.
The Eagles, to be sure, had destiny in their own hands but could not put up enough points down the stretch to get a playoff spot that was there for the Soo’s taking.
From February 1 on, the Eagles had a disappointing record of 5-10-2 in missing the playoffs.